JOE ROOT is ready to show his ruthless streak again today by leaving out England stalwart Stuart Broad for the first Test in the West Indies.
With a drier-than-expected pitch at the Kensington Oval, Broad, 32, could be facing 12th-man duties, having already been left out of the first two Tests in the series whitewash of Sri Lanka.
With 433 Test wickets to Broad’s name it will not be easy for captain Root to break the news to one of his senior bowlers but Adil Rashid or Jack Leach may play as a second spinner to Moeen Ali, with Sam Curran sharing seamer duties with James Anderson and Ben Stokes.
Insisting not too much should be read into whatever horse-for-courses decision is made, Root said: ‘If we’re in a position to leave someone of Stuart’s stature out it’s not because of lack of form or lack of ability or because his career is coming to an end.
‘Far from it. He’s actually looking like he’s improving all the time.
‘If anything it shows we’re going to balance the team up to suit conditions and hopefully become more consistent away from home because we’re reading conditions and surfaces.
‘It’s about collectively doing something special together. The sooner everyone can be on board and understand that, the better.’ However, England may go for four seamers and Ali as a solitary spinner if they trust their ability to exploit the swing-friendly Dukes ball.
There are tough calls to make in Barbados and Root added: ‘The most important thing is that they’re all ready to go and whatever decision we make, none of them are going to let us down.
‘Whoever misses out is going to be very unfortunate but I am sure they’ll be ready for the second one if they’re not required here.
‘It’s hard to work out what the pitch is going to be like so it’s about keeping an open mind, seeing how it is when we turn up and probably making quite a late decision on the team.’
■ WEST INDIES captain Jason Holder laughed off Geoffrey Boycott’s assessment of his side as a predictable part of an England tour. Four years after ECB chairman Colin Graves labelled the hosts ‘mediocre’, Boycott has branded Holder’s squad ‘very ordinary, average cricketers’. But Holder said: ‘I saw Colin Graves a few days ago and we had a good giggle about it. I’ve not seen or heard the comments by Boycott but it’s normal, we expect this sort of thing. It gets us going.’